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Minnesota Teams, Doc Rivers and Aaron Hicks React to Daunte Wright Shooting

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Less than a year after the NBA, the MLB and NHL paused to reflect on the death of George Floyd, the major American leagues found themselves in similar circumstances following Daunte Wright’s shooting.

A 20-year-old Black man, Wright was shot dead by a police officer on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Wright’s vehicle was stopped over an alleged traffic violation, before he died as a result of what Brooklyn Center Police Department chief Tim Gannon described “an accidental discharge.”

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In a statement, Gannon said officer Kimberly Potter had threatened to use her Taser before opening fire and killing Wright.

The incident came just 11 months since Floyd, a Black man who was apprehended on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a store, died just over 10 miles south of where Wright was shot dead.

In scenes eerily reminiscent of those that unfolded in May last year, games were called off in the NBA, MLB and NHL as all-three teams based in the Minneapolis area opted to put sports on hold.

“Yesterday’s tragic event, involving the life of Daunte Wright, once again leaves our community mourning,” the Minnesota Timberwolves said in a statement as they announced the postponement of their home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

“After consultation with the League, and local and state officials, we believe postponing tonight’s game versus the Brooklyn Nets is the best decision.”

Speaking on ESPN Radio’s Spain and Fitz, Timberwolves general manager Gersson Rosas said: “It could have easily been any one of us, any one of our players, any one of our staff members, anyone in our organization. […] It’s not something you can get numb to and not something to feel like it’s normal because it’s not normal. A life was lost last night, and that’s something that impacts all of us.”

The Minnesota Twins postponed their game against the Boston Red Sox and the matchup between the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues met the same fate.

“Out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Brooklyn Center [Minnesota], and following the additional details in this evolving situation, the Minnesota Twins have decided it is in the best interests of our fans, staff, players and community to not play today’s game,” the Twins wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

The #MNTwins issued the following statement regarding the decision to postpone today’s scheduled game against the Red Sox. pic.twitter.com/7U1S2P928j

— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) April 12, 2021

The Red Sox and Twins had already taken to the field and the national anthem had already been played when the postponement was announcement. Red Sox manager Alex Cora, however, had no complaints.

“Obviously, a tough situation, sad situation, especially in this area,” he said. “It’s been tough the last 12 months, with everything that’s going on.”

In a statement of their own announcing the postponement of their game against the Blues, the Wild said: “Out of respect for the heartbreaking incident that occurred last night in Brooklyn Center, tonight’s Minnesota Wild game has been postponed.

“The Minnesota Wild Organization extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Daunte Wright.”

A statement from the #mnwild: pic.twitter.com/3YDy8HTJKz

— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) April 12, 2021

The team’s general manager, Bill Guerrin, added the postponement was “the right thing to do.”

The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, said Wright’s death was a reminder of the need for policing reforms.

“We are heartbroken by the senseless killing of Daunte Wright,” the NFL team said in a statement.

“This avoidable situation is yet another tragic reminder of the drastic need for change in law enforcement training and police relations, specifically within the Black community.”

The Minneapolis area-based franchise weren’t alone in speaking out. New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks took himself out of his team’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

A view of Target Field after a postponement was announced for the game between the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins at Target Field on April 12 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game was postponed a day after a Brooklyn Center police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
David Berding/Getty Images

Hicks was selected by the Twins in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft and played for the franchise in the majors between 2013 and 2015.

“With all that’s going on in Minneapolis, he’s having a tough time right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Hicks.

“I had a conversation in my office and he just felt like it was best to not be in the starting lineup tonight. And I certainly support that and we’ll and try to rally around him the best we can. Obviously, the situation is heartbreaking right now in Minneapolis. And I think it has hit Aaron particularly hard.”

In the NBA, meanwhile, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and his San Antonio Spurs counterpart Gregg Popovich both denounced systematic racism and police brutality.

“We keep making mistakes and killing Black people,” Rivers said. “I don’t want to get into race, but it’s there.”

Popovich, was even more scathing, blasting politicians who opposed campaigns to reform and, in certain cases, defund the police.

“The people who continually fight to maintain the status quo are not good people. […] It’s deplorable,” he said.

“We need to find out who funds these people. I want to know what owners in the NBA fund these people who perpetrate these lies.”

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